Do You Know the Benefits of Intermittent Fasting?

Plus 6 Ways to Improve your Health at Meal Time

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Do you know the many benefits of intermittent fasting

If you are like most people, you probably have been raised on “three square meals” every day. And chances are you also believe that breakfast is the most important meal.  The truth is, the benefits of intermittent fasting are proven, and yet there is little to no evidence that shows eating three meals per day is good for your health.  In fact, some evidence suggests that this pattern of eating three meals and snacking in between may be partially to blame for the obesity and diabetes epidemic. And the breakfast myth — this stems from really good marketing by the cereal industry!

So, how did we become a three meals culture?  One theory states that settlers brought this tradition from Europe. By eating three meals the settlers considered themselves to be more civilized than the natives whose eating patterns varied with the seasons and included fasting.  Now there is research to suggest that fasting (deemed uncivilized by our ancestors) could actually help you lose weight and make your immune system stronger.

Yet, it’s become a cultural norm to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner, even if it doesn’t always suit our schedules or our bodies.  And, in today’s society the stress surrounding meal timing and planning may actually have more negative effects than benefits.

Why Intermittent Fasting May Make You Healthier

Our ancestors didn’t have access to food 24/7 the way most of us do today.  And they certainly didn’t have as many food choices or access to all of the processed food out there now. In medieval times in Europe, the morning meal for most people consisted of ale and bread. Later, they would eat whatever they brought in from the fields, usually around 2 pm.  This was called “dinner.”  Some people would also grab a light meal at the end of the day.  But, the last meal of the day (what most of us call dinner now) was not a formal or large meal, and was often skipped.

Today, most of us are on autopilot when it comes to eating three meals so that when we skip meals (or eat foods that we think should be eaten at a different time of day, such as pasta for breakfast or eggs for dinner), we often feel guilty.  But, our bodies were actually designed for intermittent periods of fasting, and many modern diets are coming back to this. The reason why is that intermittent fasting helps to lower your insulin levels.

Excess insulin is the final common pathway that has led to the obesity epidemic. So anything you can do to lower insulin levels naturally is very healthy for your body. Breakfast means to “break the fast.” A 12-hour fast is a very easy way to lower insulin levels.  Because it takes 12 hours of not eating for the body to clear its stores of glycogen (stored sugar) in the liver.   It’s easy to go without food for 12 hours if you do it overnight. 

It is high insulin that drives cellular inflammation as well.  So, that is the key point of the benefits of fasting. But, there are other benefits, such as an increase in growth hormone.

6 More Benefits of Intermittent Fasting

Fasting to improve health dates back thousands of years. Hippocrates and Plato were both said to tout the benefits. And fasting has been used in all major religions for its ability to clear our minds, hearts and bodies. In recent years intermittent fasting for health reasons has become popular, and there is now scientific evidence to support it.

Here are 6 more benefits of fasting:

Intermittent fasting may have many of the same benefits as calorie restriction

Even if you don’t restrict calories on other days.

Fasting may stimulate your sympathetic nervous system. 

This can help you stay alert and at the same time more resistant to stress.  So if you are under pressure at work, laying off the heavy mid-day meal could benefit your performance.

Fasting can lower your insulin levels

In addition to lowering insulin, it also can lower another hormone known as IGF-1 (insulin-like growth factor,) which is linked to cancer and diabetes. This is the single most important benefit of fasting.

Fasting shifts your body from burning glucose for fuel to using fat stores.

During this process fat is converted to ketones, a more efficient energy source.

Fasting can reduce inflammation

Fasting has been shown in some studies to lower inflammation markers including CRP, IL-6, TNF, BDNF, and more.

Intermittent fasting doesn’t have to feel like a diet. 

You can choose which version of intermittent fasting works for you so that you can eat what you want within a certain window of time that suits your body and your schedule.  When done this way, you may not even notice that you are going longer between meals.

Easy Ways to Start Fasting

Here are a few ways that some experts recommend incorporating fasting into your diet:

Alternate Day Fasting — This has become known recently as the 5:2 diet. It involves eating only 500 calories two days per week. The rest of the week you eat normally without any calorie restriction. The theory is that eating only 500 calories on those two days gives your body time to reset. For some this can lead to weight loss, reduce belly fat, lower blood pressure and blood sugar, reduce inflammation, and can even increase your lifespan.

Time Restricted Eating — This diet requires you to eat all of your daily meals within a short window of time – usually six to eight hours.  Dr. Mercola is a fan of eating all of your daily meals within an eight-hour window. This involves skipping either breakfast or dinner (not both) to allow your digestive tracts to rest for a longer period of time each day.  So for example, if you eat your first meal at 8 am, you would have your last meal no later than 4 pm.  Then you would fast until 8 am the next day — roughly 16 hours.  However, he does not recommend this for normal weight teens or growing children.

Fasting for 1-4 Days — Proponents of fasting for days on end say doing this once every six months forces your body into survival mode so that it uses up stores of fat and sugar, and also breaks down old cells. This causes the body’s entire immune system to regenerate, providing better protection against infection and disease, experts said. 

Other popular intermittent fasting diets include; Eat Stop Eat by Brad Pilon where you fast for 24 hours one day per week. Probably the most popular is The Warrior Diet by Ori Hofmekler, which started the intermittent fasting craze and claims that as humans we are nocturnal eaters, programmed for one meal per day.  In this program you eat one large meal every day and fast for up to 20 hours.

Is Intermittent Fasting for You?

While there are many studies supporting the different benefits of fasting, there are also studies that show fasting is not for everyone. One study reported by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that alternate day fasting could lower glucose tolerance and actually crash your metabolism.  

However, in his book The Obesity Cure, Jason Fung, MD, a nephrologist and top expert regarding intermittent fasting, points out that fasting actually increases one’s metabolic rate. Many of his patients are on dialysis for the kidney damage from diabetes, so every day he sees the sobering results of a diet that raises blood sugar too high over long periods of time. Many people with diabetes do well with fasting. And Dr. Fung points to research showing that, contrary to popular opinion, fasting does not result in decreased muscle mass. He recommends exercising in a fasted state to improve your recovery time and build muscle faster. I’ve certainly found that this is easy to do. 

Fasting is not only safe but beneficial for most people.  However, you should not use intermittent fasting if you are pregnant or breast feeding.  Children and teens should not fast. Finally, if you have a medical condition or take medications, you need to check with your health care provider to see if fasting is recommended for you. 

How To Adapt Your Meal Times to Your Body 

The only way to know if intermittent fasting is right for you is to trust your body. You may want to try one or several of these popular intermittent fasting methods.  Or, do some research of your own and see what intermittent fasting approach resonates with you.

If you feel that fasting is simply too difficult, or have other reasons why you don’t want to try it, I urge you to explore your resistance.

Often this hesitancy is emotional.  Maybe there is a habit, or even an addiction — such as having a sugary breakfast and caffeine as soon as you wake up, or drinking a night cap before bed — that you are not willing to change. Or perhaps you are a continuous eater at a certain time of day.  If this sounds like you, then you may need to explore your 5th Chakra to understand why you use food to suppress your emotions and what it is that you are not willing to say.

Once you identify what’s behind your resistance and come to terms with it, you will find that intermittent fasting is easy. But remember, it doesn’t work if you go right back to your old habits as soon as the fast is over. 

One way to ease into fasting is to understand when your body needs nourishment. To do this you will need to tune into your own body and learn its signals. Then, choose to eat at the right time for you. Once you have discovered your personal 24-hour meal clock, then start to introduce intermittent fasting.  Try to go without food for 12 hours on a regular basis three to four times per week.  For example, if you have your last meal at 7PM, then you would not eat anything until 7AM the next morning.  Easy, right?  During that 12-hour window, your body will switch from using stored glycogen for fuel and begin using fat. 

6 Ways to Improve your Health at Meal Time

No matter how many meals you consume per day or what time you eat them, here are some ways you can improve your health at mealtime:

  1. Eliminate sugar in all forms. Sugar — including pasta, grains, cereals, alcohol, and even “health bars” — keep you hungry. So, reach for healthy fats instead.
  2. Eat fresh fruit and vegetables. These should be the staples in any diet, whether you are including intermittent fasting or not.
  3. Eliminate processed foods. Processed foods contain sugar and tons of chemicals that not only cause weight gain, but have other serious consequences to your health. Plus, sugar keeps you hungry so you want to eat more frequently. It’s best to eat fresh, whole foods 80 percent of the time.
  4. Limit alcohol. Alcohol is sugar. Try to reduce or eliminate this from your diet.
  5. Drink pure water. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger and is the cause of overeating for many people.  Aim for drinking half of your body weight in ounces per day. So if you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces of water per day.  You will also have more energy when you’re not dehydrated. Fresh juices and smoothies are also good and may even replace a meal, which can give your digestive tract a rest similar to that achieved while fasting.
  6. Listen to your body. Tune into your body’s hunger signals and eat when you are truly hungry. But don’t overeat. And don’t worry about what time it is. Your appetite may not chime at the times our three meal culture dictates.

Have you tried intermittent fasting?  Do you have an eating schedule that doesn’t fit the cultural norm?  What meal time practices work for you?  Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.

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  1. Adnarim
    1 month ago

    Can I eat from 12pm – 8pm mon – Thur and then on Friday and Saturday 4pm – 11pm? Can I change my fasting times to go along with my schedule?

  2. Judy
    8 months ago

    Lost 20 Lb’s on 5:2 a few years ago. Was able to give up Metformin for type 2, Prilosec, anti-depressants, and HBP medication. I now follow IF 16 hours, eat for 8. I’ve lost 10lb in the last few months. I fast from 10-11pm to 2-3pm, which works very well for me. My recent A1c slipped up to 6.1. I believe it was due to the daily smoothie, loaded with honey, fruit, juices, coconut milk, & yogurt, delicious! I’ve cut back somewhat on amount of honey and now my fasting glucose is 119, as is my 4 hour postprandial. I’ll be waiting to see what my A1c is come March.

  3. Della-Santa Jacqueline
    8 months ago

    I do IF for years from 3pm to 8am every day, till after my mid forties, when I get into the perimenopausal stage….
    I am 52 now, when I fast over 14 hours, I usually still dont eat from 6pm to 8am, but has a cup of chai with 1/2 honey at 5am before my daily 90mins yoga. However, going hungry thse days makes me super anxious and worsen my heart palpitations and nervouseness. All my blood tests including my fasting blood sugar is fine, so not pre-diabetes etc.
    I read that its because over the many years of over work and over training, it seems my adrenal glands are producing too much cortisol?
    I am no meds, and no health conditions, besides this anxiety since my mid 40s…
    I am still light weight, 50kg at 163cm.
    I would love to still do the 2pm to 8am daily like I did for years, its so convenient not having to eat or think about food!
    Any thoughts?

    1. Cindy
      8 months ago

      Why don’t you try giving up the chai tea and honey and still having something else without the sugar and caffeine. Caffeine and sugar will definitely jolt your system into that anxiety state you talked about.

    2. Cindy
      8 months ago

      Also, I have all the symptoms you mentioned and can be hypoglycemic. Kefir is something I use to hold me over to the next meal, light on the glucose and has protein.

      1. Jacqueline
        8 months ago

        Thank you, Cindy, my chai tea is made with rooibos, no caffeine, i dont take any caffeine or alcohol and barely any chocolate, stimulants or sugar in other forms, even fruits, and the 1/2 tsp honey is the only honey I take in a day, but as you said, even that 1/2 tsp might be too much. Thanks for thr reminder.

      2. Jacqueline
        8 months ago

        Thanks for the tip on kefir, will give it a try

  4. Roxy
    8 months ago

    I have been doing this for about 9 months now on a daily basis using the 16 hr. fasting/8/hr eating method. I have not found it too difficult, altho I am a very disciplined person. If I have a day I feel I need to eat earlier or later, I do, but as time goes by I am finding that my body and appetite are changing. I feel great! I have more energy, emotional clarity, my body feels light (easier on my 65 yr. old joints). After all these months, I am not as hungry as I used to be. I feel my life used to revolve so much around food on the 3 meal a day method. Now I think my appetite has become natural to what my body needs rather than what custom has dictated. I am realizing how much of my former eating habits were based on emotional eating/boredom, rather than being hungry. I have less cravings, especially for sweets. When I only have 8 hrs. in which to eat, I can only eat so much food in that time period, so that now, my food choices are the highest quality fats, veggies, fruits, and protein. After eating those, I have little room left for lots of grains and sweets. And, of course, I am sure my stomach has shrunk, so I am not able to eat as much in one sitting. I don’t think this for everybody, but after you try it and see how great you feel, you will know this is the plan for you.

  5. Anna
    8 months ago

    My doctor told me I am pre-diabetic. Speaking with a nutritionist she says I need to eat 3 meals a day. All my life I basically ate 1 meal day, dinner. I have never been overweight. People say it’s my genes, hmmmm. Therefore, I am on the right track. I should be fasting and only eating one meal a day.

  6. Betty
    9 months ago

    I have gotten into the habit of eating my last meal around 730, then usually don’t eat in morning (aside from lemon juice, aloe, and matcha tea with cinnamon and chia) until sometime between 1030 and 12. I then eat lightly one to 2 more times before which, which is a big salad with healthy protein on it. I have had borderline glucose since the early 90’s, and three sides of my family had diabetes, including my dad. I am 61, weigh 110 (5’4″, small frame), exercise regularly, and eat cleanly. My doctor and naturopath both want me to eat 5 times daily. When I did that my glucose did still stay 101-121, but my A1c lowered from 6 to 5.6. On the current regimen, my glucose was 99, but my Aic had crept back up over the last 2 years to 6. My inflammation factors are low. My insulin in 15 was 4.2. My naturopath thinks my red blood cells are healthy and raise the A1c. Would like your opinion re whether my current eating schedule is good for me. Thank you!

  7. A Trotter
    9 months ago

    I lost over 20 lbs in just over 2 months on 5:2!
    I love it-I have found the answer I have been searching for my whole life. 2 Days To Skinny on Amazon by Adam Revsen is the easiest most helpful book on this incredible way of losing weight.

  8. Pearl
    9 months ago

    I did lots of research and tried Michael Mosely’s 5:2 for 5 weeks, it was easy but I lost..Nothing. Not effective for me-maybe more effective if you are male or really overweight ie obese.

  9. yoohoopetunia
    9 months ago

    Thank you Dr. Northrup and
    Thank you to everyone who has succeeded with fasting for giving your feedback. I was nervous about trying this and now feel more confident because of you. My son and husband never want to eat breakfast and I find my self fussing about how they need to eat to get their body going in the morning. I’ll fuss no more. I also find myself feeling guilty when I forget to eat. I’ll guilt no more. Only eat when I’m hungry, brilliant.

  10. Gary
    9 months ago

    “Fresh juices and smoothies are also good and may even replace a meal”…. Uh, not if fruit is involved. Fruit juices are loaded with sugar. Even raw fruit should be limited to berries for the low sugar and high anti-oxidants. Melons, oranges, etc are insulin spikes waiting to happen.

  11. Sharon Bates
    9 months ago

    Really interesting article. I was brought up believing that eating three meals a day was necessary. Sometimes I didn’t feel like eating at the set times. Now that I have retired from employment, and free from time constraints, I often eat breakfast later than I used to as im not always hungry first thing in the morning. I noticed that grains were on your list of foods to avoid eating. I always thought that grains were nutritious, supplying B vitamins. Does this mean that we are not to eat porridge or toast? (popular breakfast items).

    1. Jean S.
      9 months ago

      Sharon, Check out Dr. David Perlmutter’s book “Grain Brain”. It is the gluten (whether you are sensitive to it or not) that does most of the damage. Our health, especially brain health is being chinked away at. My husband and I gave up all grains, sugar, alcohol, soft drinks, junk food, and incorporated lots of good fats. Without trying we lost ALL of our excess weight. It is amazing! Or go to Dr. Perlmutter’s website for more information. He also has a new book out. You can get all the nutrients found in grains in other foods. We might eat a bit of organic brown rice once in a while. We also only eat organic. Monsanto is destroying our precious food sources by spraying everything grown non organic with Roundup…..highly toxic!!! Save your health and your life……eat organic!!!!

  12. Kay Garriott
    9 months ago

    Dr. Jason Fung’s book is The Obesity Code, not Obesity Cure. I follow Appetite Correction/Fast 5. http://www.fast-5.org I’m 62 years old an have lost 35 lbs so far. Intermittent fasting is a lifestyle not a diet, it’s free, and it works!

  13. Deborah
    9 months ago

    Very interesting article. I have heard of the night fasting for 12 hours recently which makes sense to me and sounds doable. I have had some unpleasant experiences in the past with fasting as I tend to have very low blood sugar and normally have to eat every two hours or so to avoid this happening, so that did not work well for me, but I am willing to give this a try, especially after the excesses of christmas and the New Year!

  14. Debbie
    9 months ago

    This sounds interesting. Can u still drink anything other than water while fasting

    1. Deborah
      1 month ago

      No. Apparently you set your circadian rhythms by when you eat. I was drinking tea when I woke up, even if 12 hours had not passed yet. I then read an article in the New York Times that you set your circadian rhythm with your first cup of coffee. Eating is as important as light and darkness it said, which is news to me. So I no longer drink herbal tea right before bed. I drink it earlier. I am motivated to stop eating and drinking earlier at night so I can enjoy my first cup of tea when I awaken.

      1. Deborah
        1 month ago

        Here’s the article.
        https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/01/15/a-12-hour-window-for-a-healthy-weight/?_r=0

  15. Bill Cashell
    9 months ago

    I have actually been doing a combination of two types of fasting for the past year. I use the 5/2 diet and eat only one meal on Monday and Wednesday. I’m not too focused on the 500-600 calorie target, but usually this one meal is about that. I eat that meal between noon and 2pm. I make sure it is high in protein – usually an omelet with veggies to keep me satisfied through the evening.

    On the other days, I try to eat only 2 meals between 10am and 6pm. I usually have a handful of nuts in the early afternoon. The interesting thing I have found is that my energy is higher on the fast days, and higher overall since giving up all day eating. I make sure to have my workout in the morning before I eat.

    At first, it was a challenge to eat later in the day, so I gradually moved my first meal back later in the morning and stopped eating after 6pm. It does not take long for your body to adjust, and now I am never hungry (or even in the mood for food) until later in the day. Another thing that has happened is, by eating fewer meals it makes me more conscious of what I eat at each meal. It forces me to make sure I eat mostly healthy foods.

    I am about to turn 70, but I feel like I am 30 (actually, I feel younger than that, but I don’t want to push it).

  16. Jennifer
    9 months ago

    I have used IF in the past and it does work very well. I used Brad Pilon’s “Eat-Stop-Eat” program for about 9 months. This required me to fast 1 – 2 days a week for a 24 hour period. The first few times my stomach growled so loud I thought people could hear it next door! LOL But the stomach is a creature of habit, and after a few weeks it did adjust. What also happened was that my appetite was naturally reduced creating an overall caloric deficit. I ate very healthy and drank a lot of water. I also continued my exercise program of cardio and weights even on my fast days, which were never hampered by the fasting. Within that time I lost close to 15 pounds. I had to have all my clothes taken in by several inches and my old wardrobe hung on me like an oversized coat. Hello, shopping!! 🙂 So if you can find a fasting program that fits into your lifestyle and can get past the first few days it really does work and you feel surprisingly good! It also won’t mess up your metabolism if you don’t eat every 3 hours like we are taught and that most of the info we see about this is largely fed by the meal supplement industry. Every person’s experience is different however so listen to your body and if it truly does not feel right then it’s not for you. For me this was the only thing that worked to lose those stubborn pounds.

  17. Patricia
    9 months ago

    I drink tea with coconut milk in the morning hours and found that having a typical breakfast (gluten galore) only made me hungry. Does drinking that milk constitute BREAKING the intermittent fasting? Bummer if so!

    Keep up the wonderful work, Dr. Northrup :))

  18. Juli
    9 months ago

    I am a wellness advisor and have been doing “intermittent fasting ” for a long time instinctively. I follow and alkalarian plant base lifestyle . Sometimes i have dinner at 9-10 pm and dont feel hungry until 4 pm next day. Despite the fact that I do drink 4 to 5 lt of alkaline water with chlorophyll I was feeling a little guilty about it. (Because of the 3 meals doctrine) But reading this article reinforced my intuition and it made sense to me. Thank you !

  19. Juli
    9 months ago

    I have been doing “intermittent fasting ” for a long time instinctively. I follow and alkalarian plant base lifestyle . Sometimes i have dinner at 9-10 pm and dont feel hungry until 4 pm next day. I was feeling a little guilty about it. (Because of the 3 meals doctrine) But reading this article reinforced my intuition and it made sense to me. Thank you !

    1. Juli
      9 months ago

      I forgot to mention that i do drink about 4 to 5 lt of water every day with liquid chlorophyll. And i recommend the same to my wellness clients. 🙂

  20. Jennifer Bell
    9 months ago

    How would this work for someone that’s hypoglycemic? At the moment I have to eat every 2 1/2 to 3 hours or I get into serious trouble. When I was younger I didn’t have hypoglycemic symptoms but now I have it very severely and would really like to not live in fear of if the next hypoglycemic episode.

  21. Katherine
    9 months ago

    For a year and a half now, I’ve been fasting over 24 hours, once a week. Basically, I don’t eat for 24 hours from finishing my evening meal to dinner the day after. During that fasting day, I drink a lot of warm water. Occasionally, I will make barley water (just boiling pearl barley, nothing else added) or a herbal tea such as fennel, because I enjoy them.

    I started off doing two 24-hour fasting slots with one light dinner halfway. Now, I do it once a week, although I do eat if that day happens to fall during my period.

    I must admit that I’d tried to fast several times over the years but my body would rebel with headaches, nausea, tremors, etc. The fasting suddenly turned easy when I began to practise it with an intention (as opposed because people said it was good for you). Now, I use fasting like a re-set button. When I fast, I affirm that my body is shedding excess weight, or whatever ailment I happen to have at the time, or that my mind is shedding some pattern or emotion I wish to dissolve.

    The 24-hour fast once a week seems to work for me. It just feels, as I said, like a welcome re-set mode.

  22. Patricia A Weiser
    9 months ago

    I have been type 2 insulin dependent for 25 years. How can this apply to me? And won’t forcing our bodies into starvation mode trick our bodies into using fewer calories?

  23. Charlotte Sison
    9 months ago

    I’ve been doing this and i find that i can hold my appetite for food for longer. In fact, i sometimes don’t even feel hungry nor weak even if its hours since my last meal. For example i started doing it for 12hrs then 13 & so forth. Now i can work up to 18hrs without food already. I can’t say there were major results but i found my belly fat to have reduced and it’s easier for me to lose weight since i have enough time to burn my stored fat. This is working for me so far. Thanks for the validation, Dr. Northrup!

  24. Julie
    9 months ago

    I’ve been doing IF. For a few years I would do a long fast for 7-10 days usually in the Spring with only protein drinks and vegetable broth. I felt great and broke the fast when I felt my body told me it was time. I don’t do that anymore. Recently I started doing an aprox. 48 hour fast. I begin after my last meal of the day, fast the next day, then eat supper the following day. So 40-48 hours. I drink plenty of fluids. It’s relatively easy for me to do. When I go through a difficult period I recognize 99.9% of the time to be emotional and work through it. I let my health go down the tubes esp. the last few years, after 50. After 50 for me and menopause things change and I needed to adapt to the changes. This IF appears to be the ticket for me. It feels very natural and I feel much better. I’m getting my health back. I also told two Dr.’s about it and expected a scowl, but instead said they advocated it, just to drink lots of water. Was thrilled to receive this article.

    1. Julie
      9 months ago

      I wanted to add one important thing. I do this fast once a week.

  25. Anita
    9 months ago

    I have been fasting 22:2 for several months and, as a result, feel fantastic. At 71, I have more energy then I did at 50! I started fasting 16:8 and when that worked so well I expanded it. I am actually less hungry between my one meal per day now then I was when I ate 2 o3 meals per day. It’s very freeing. My BS and cholesterol numbers are low normal without meds. I have also been following a ketogenic diet for 3 years which has put my rheumatoid arthritis into remission. After 30 years on serious RA drugs, I am now med free and pain free. I’m so grateful.

  26. Zaneta Garratt
    9 months ago

    very interesting article, must try this

  27. lucie
    9 months ago

    I tried it a while ago. I didn’t lose any weight – in fact i think i put some on – and my periods stopped. I’ve since read that it can be dangerous for some women and can bring on early menopause! It’s a shame as I have seen the benefits on other people, I just am too afraid to go there again.

  28. KarenL
    9 months ago

    I’ve been doing IF for about 3 years. I originally started with the Warrior’s Diet and then did FastDiet 5:2 after watching the BBC documentary and buying the book. I lost about 10 pounds and have kept it off by fasting one day a week and using “the window” on a daily basis but other than that, I don’t overly restrict myself. Some days I find it very difficult but so far, I prefer this method of eating for many reasons. In the beginning, I had headaches but after a month or so, they subsided and I didn’t feel as so “chained” to food schedules.

  29. Sara
    9 months ago

    Since I first started reading about this a few weeks ago, I have found that if I intentionally listen to my body, I find that I’m simply not hungry at specified times when I’m “supposed” to be, and I’ve taken to eating accordingly. For example, if I don’t feel hungry at breakfast time, I skip the meal altogether, and my cup of morning tea suits me just fine. If I’m not hungry for lunch at noon, I don’t force myself to eat just because it’s “time.” This alone has made a huge difference for me. Not only am I not consuming calories I don’t even need, but I feel so much lighter. And eating two meals a day instead of the typical three has sustained me wonderfully.

  30. Madeleine
    9 months ago

    Hi Dr Northrup! Thank you for being such an amazing resource to all of us! You truly help people to become their best!
    I have done intermittent fasting now for over a year. I can say that in the beginning it was hard but now my body and mind is used to it. In fact I think it has undone my conditioning to feel the need to eat just bècause you’re supposed to by cultural norms. I adapted the fasting schedule to suit me, since I do vigorous and physically demanding yoga in the morning I have to have breakfast afterwards and my last meal is at 4pm.
    The week before my period it helps to balance out the pms!

  31. Zena
    9 months ago

    I have been on the 5:2 since last April and lost 2 stone. In between fasting my appetite seems to be re calibrated and I eat less naturally. I fast two days each week on 600 calories and plan each day and prepare mentally. If I have social events that I would rather not fast for I move the days around. My husband has had equal success. Great for me but I know not everyone can manage it. I live in the UK and read the Fast Diet by Dr Michael Moseley. I feel sharp and energetic and with my Am a Ta supplement I feel on top of the world !

  32. Barbara Dean
    9 months ago

    I am concerned that fasting will lower my blood sugar very low and then when I start eating again it will shoot up very quickly. I was told to keep sugar levels steady.

    1. Marci Bowman
      9 months ago

      Hello Barbara,

      First, let me say, I’m not a doctor (nor do I play one on tv). But I read a lot about this subject and I’m a health coach who’s worked with many clients who have been given the same advice as you.

      What I’ve seen is that actually the opposite occurs. When we fast our bodies become better attuned to mediating our blood sugar levels. We’re not continuously causing insulin to be released (as happens when we eat), which leads to insulin resistance. I make sure that my clients slowly adapt to this way of eating and that they eat plenty of healthy fats for energy, too. After a few weeks, usually they feel fantastic. Their blood glucose readings improve. They can go long periods without feeling “hangry,” and when they do eat, they thoroughly enjoy it. The majority of them lose weight, too.

      Anyway, as Dr. Northrup says in the article above, trust your body. Try out the overnight twelve-hour fasts and see how you feel. I hope it works for you!

  33. Cheryl Edwards
    9 months ago

    I have been practicing IF for a year with great results. I also gave up all grain products and sugar at the same time. I lost ten pounds and have kept it off without difficulty. I also exercise moderately either walking or using a stationary bike for 30 minutes and strength training twice a week. At 61, that keeps me in fantastic shape without injury. When practicing IF I keep my fruits to two a day but eat copious amounts of vegetables. I eat at 10am and stop eating at 7pm. 7pm to 10am is my natural fasting window. It goes with my individual eating pattern. It took me a while to figure that out but it works well for me! Great article Dr. Northrup.

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